In this game, you will play a person on one of two sides in a war. You may play anything from a lowly foot soldier to a high-ranking officer, or perhaps an advisor or minstrel. The game will be played in past tense (example: "As soon as Roardan heard the noise, he ran up the stairs to see what had happened", and not: "Suddenly Roardan hears a noise, and decides to run up the stairs to see what's going on").
We will be playing in a fictional world of mine, the setting being medieval high-fantasy, in which the city-state magocracy of Valorium in the south and the theocracy of Skyland in the north are waging a war against each other that has lasted for five decades.
A recap of the war:
- Year 949: Hrafner, God King of Skyland, issues the decree that all magic is sacred and that its practice is now forbidden to all but himself. Heralds are sent to Valorium in the south to inform them of the God Kings demand. The wizards and witches are outraged and refuse. Skyland declares war on the city-state of Valorium.
- Year 950: Soldiers are being mustered all across Skyland. Valorium, on the other hand, has yet to summon its strength.
- Year 953: The gathered forces of Skyland march towards the borders of Valorium, but never manage to invade the enemy lands. The mages have prepared themselves and has summoned a terrible storm all along the border. The Skylandish army is powerless to do anything as the wizards begin to deploy their troops strategically.
- Year 956: The barrier created by the mages is finally dispelled by none other than the God King himself. The Skylandish army is free to advance after three long infuriating years. Resistance presents itself immediately in the form of Krommish mercenaries employed by the mages. Battles are raging all along the border.
- Year 966: The fighting has lasted for 10 long years. The frontline has been pushed back and forth with no real victories won by any side. The initial soldiers of both nations are tired or broken. The Skylanders decide to pull back to the border, fortifying their position in wait for fresh soldiers. The mages uses the opportunity to hire more soldiers from abroad.
- Year 969: Fresh, new troops have arrived and both sides are prepared to move again, but the face of the war has changed. Both nations are now so heavily fortified and entrenched that direct assault is impossible. Skyland makes great use of its airships, giving the soldiers of Valorium a hard time.
- Year 975: A breach is finally made in the Valorium line of defense, allowing Skylandish forces pour through almost unhindered into enemy territory. The army of Valorium is soon on full retreat to protect its capital.
- Year 976: The siege of Valorium. Skylandish troops have encircled the city but their hold of it is weak. Reports indicate that more mercenaries from abroad have arrived on the eastern shores, and it is impossible to stop agents of the mages from travelling as they can do so by means of magic. It is rumored that Hrafner himself has decided to come down south to end the conflict once and for all.
- Year 977: The siege continues, but the situation grows desperate for the Skylandish army. Large forces of enemies are moving towards Valorium from both the east and west shores. The only hope is for Hrafner to arrive on time. Meanwhile, the mages have not been idle. They have sought out an old, terrible evil and have struck a deal with it, the price for the creature’s intervention unknown. The God King of Skyland finds his path blocked by a monster from ancient days, a terrifying black dragon of the underworld. The battle is short but intense. The dragon is in the end driven back underground, heavily wounded, but Hrafner is not far behind and is forced to return to his palace to rest.
- Year 978: The siege is lifted. The Skylanders are on full retreat and the army of Valorium advances for the first time into Skyland territory.
- Year 989: Skyland is on fire. The mercenaries are rampaging through the Skylandish countryside, looting and burning every settlement they come upon. The towns and cities of Skyland are still fiercely protected though, and the still quite formidable army is slowly picking off the invading war parties one by one. The God King has yet to reappear and speak to his people, and rumor has it that the dragonfire burned him so bad he might never do so again.
- Year 990: In an unexpected turn of events, a third of the mercenary force in the employment of the mages suddenly switches sides and begins fighting for Skyland. Skyland is much the poorer for it, though, nearly going bankrupt. The tide is turned and the Skylandish army manages to push the invaders back to the border.
- Year 999: The war has once again gone back and forth across the border with no real results, and both sides are exhausted. A rebellion has raged in the city-state of Valorium following the heavy toll of the dragons aid; a quarter of the population of Valorium as food and slaves. Many Skylanders are beginning to lose faith as the God King has yet to be seen or heard from. But there are many rumors regarding the upcoming millennia of Skyland. Some say that Hrafner will return and end the war, others that the dragon will come to claim its prize. There are also rumors of strange activities in the halls of the Circle of Magi, of strange sounds and lights in the dark of night. Only one thing is certain: people are getting desperate, and the war must end soon. But in which manner, no one can agree.
The City-State of Valorium
The city-state of Valorium was founded three hundred years ago by the surviving Archmages of the legendary Mage Wars. It occupies a stretch of land which no other kingdom previously inhabited, commonly known as the Wizards Vale. Valorium is a state where not men, but magic rules the lives of its inhabitants. It is not your intelligence, looks or origin which dictates how far you will climb in the hierarchy of the land. It is your ability to understand and use the forces of magic.
There are two kinds of people in Valorium; the Mages and the Serfs. The mages form the ruling class and live rich lives filled with magic and intrigue. The serfs are those born without the ability to use magic, and are thus on the lowest possible peg in the food chain, sometimes considered even lower than cattle. Serfs have no rights and can never ascend from their position. They form the working force of the magocracy, toiling in the mines and fields all their life until their bodies succumb to the heavy labor.
The people are categorized as mages or serfs after having undergone a test at the age of three. The children then undergo a certain ritual devised to separate the gifted from those that are not. The gifted are stolen from their families and raised in one of the five Great Towers, where they learn the ways of magic.
The leadership of Valorium comes in the form of the Circle of Magi, which is a council made up of the Archmages of the five Great Towers. These five individuals decide on all matters that concern the realm, both domestically and foreign. They are not united as one, though; there is a bitter rivalry between all the Towers and many a conflict has blossomed and withered during the states three hundred years old history. In fact, the only time when the Archmages appear to stand united is when a threat arises from outside the land. The rest of the time, the Towers governs themselves and the land around them without interference from the other Archmages.
The laws of Valorium differ greatly from many of its neighbors. Among the mages of the magocracy, weakness is considered a flaw of almost criminal proportions. Therefore, the laws regarding the security of individuals are very vague. For example, thievery is not punishable at all. The wizards reason that, if you get away with taking something from someone without them being able to take it back, the thing which you stole is now rightfully yours. The same goes for vengeance and murder; if you think you got what it takes to kill a rival or exact justice for a friend, by all means go ahead and try. If you succeed then clearly you were the stronger one and thus obviously in the right. If you fail... then that is oftentimes punishment enough. The only time other mages will interfere is when something is conducted in an unmagelike way, for example, murdering a rival with brute physical force instead of using magic. Such behavior can get mages banished from their towers, or even worse, killed outright for their offence.
The cornerstone of the economy of Valorium is the mining and trade of Faestone ore. Faestone is a special kind of mineral which is crucial in the use of magic. A mage is a person who can tap into the flow of mana which courses unseen through existence and thus change the world to his/her will, but that power in itself is useless and impossible to perform without the use of a conductor of some sort. Faestone is one of the few known materials which functions as such a conductor. It is used in wands, staffs, orbs and even scrolls to help the magician focus and unleash his/her power. There are domestical industries devoted to the search for and excavation of Faestone, but the magocracy also trade for it with both the dwarves and other neighboring nations. It is an expensive commodity to buy at such scales as the Valorians do, but it just so happens that the mages are very, very rich.
The military of the city-state is a joke and therefore relies heavily on mercenaries from abroad. The land has no military tradition at all, with the wizards having fought out all their conflicts with magic in the past. The standing army is made up of pikemen, more pikemen and a few archers to back them up. Young, upcoming mages act as officers and the members of the Circle are the great dictators of the armed forces. To add some oomph to their host, the mages hire all sorts of warriors and thugs from around the world to serve them in battle. Most famous mercenary companies have fought for the mages at least one or two times. And because of the abundance of gold in the treasuries of the Towers, the number of willing soldiers never dissipates.
There is no religious worship in the city-state of Valorium. It isn't officially outlawed, but the mages don't seem to care for worshipping anything else but themselves. The serfs have never had the concept of gods explained to them, at least not thoroughly, so there are no widespread religious beliefs among them either. No foreign church has ever been allowed to build temples in Valorium. The mages chase the priests/priestesses off, calling them spies for their government.
Technology has never been important in Valorium. The mages have always solved their problems with magic, and allowing the serfs to use advanced tools is out of the question.
The symbol of Valorium is a golden circle on a field of crimson red.
On Mages and Magic
Think of these mages and the magic they use like the ones in the Harry Potter universe, with a big pinch of dictatorship and oppression in the mix. These wizards and witches are what it would have been like if Voldemort had lived in the medieval age and won. Apprentice magicians perform their magic through wand and word, whereas master magicians need little more than their minds alone.
Skyland is the by far oldest nation in the known world. It was founded a thousand years ago by the living God King Hrafner. It was initially a small country, but has grown during the ages into a behemoth by means of constant conquest. Life and law in Skyland is determined by the decrees of the God King, whose words are impervious to argument.
All children are born equal in Skyland and are free to pursue whatever goals they might have, within the rules set by Hrafner. Advancement in the hierarchy depends solely on individual merit and has nothing at all to do with the social status of ones parents. Children are in fact not viewed as the property or responsibility of their mothers and fathers; in Skyland, all belong to the great God King, and everyone has a hand I raising the young. Resources are then distributed according to social standing and importance. Seeking advancement beyond one’s own profession is however looked down upon once adulthood has been reached.
Skyland is in essence a dictatorship. Hrafner gets to decide everything from laws to social standards and no one else has any say. The priesthood acts as his messengers, preaching his words to the people across the wide country. Small or unimportant matters are dealt with by officials and priests, but the guideline written beforehand by the God King are set in stone and obeyed thereafter.
There is very little crime in Skyland, mainly because of two things. Firstly it is because of the people’s fierce belief and loyalty to Hrafner. All Skylanders are taught from an early age that God is infallible and that all should constantly seek to please him. Committing crime is obviously not a good way to do that. Secondly, the firmness of the laws and the harshness of the punishments functions as a serious message to those who would still seek to live of others by breaking the law: almost every crime, from pickpocketing to murder, is punishable by death.
The economy of Skyland depends heavily on domestic agriculture and industry. Skyland is a very isolated country and rarely involves itself with international trade. This works only because of the rigorous system of rationed resources, a system which has worked fine up until recently. The Valorians managed to severely cripple Skylands economy during the invasion by raiding and pillaging much of the countryside, thereby rendering the most important factor of Skylands welfare destroyed.
Skyland has the most advanced and organized military in the known world. The nation has been aggressive throughout almost its entire history, leading to a very well-oiled machine of war. Skylandish troops are the only ones in the world carrying blackpowder firearms. The army has also developed crude zeppelin-like airships, used for scouting as well as bombing and the deployment of troops. The army is on top of that very big; there are a lot of people living in Skyland and one of the most respected professions is being a soldier for the God King.
The symbol of Skyland is a white moon-and-star on a field of black.
On Hrafner, the God King
In Skyland, people believe that Hrafner is the one true God and that he alone can bring light to the world. He is infallible and his word is law. But outside Skyland, and particularly in Valorium, there are other opinions on the matter. Some say that Hrafner is in fact a very powerful sorcerer, perhaps in possession of some great ancient magical artifact. Others believe that Hrafner is in fact not one person but many; an icon made up by the priesthood to enslave the people. A third suggestion is that Hrafner is, much like the dragons and demons, an ancient magical being with its own twisted agenda. Whatever the case, it is widely recognized that the individual called Hrafner is in possession of powers that no normal mortal could ever compete with.
Kromm is in fact not a nation, but rather a loose federation of peoples hailing from a group of islands in the western sea. The Krommish are famous for their barbaric warriors, hardened by centuries of warring between themselves. Krommish heraldics are very simplistic, always consisting of a stylized animal on a one-colored background. For example a black eagle on a field of blue, or a white boar on a field of brown.
Ulburban is a nation to the south of Valorium, separated from the city-state by an ocean called the Sea of Gales. It is not the army of Ulburban which is famous up north, but rather the pirates who fight for money and fame across the waters. Ulburbanians heraldry consists of the image-glyphs of their own language.
Gorgaly is a large but poor feudal kingdom located to the northeast of both Valorium and Skyland. It is customary for Gorgalian nobles to lead soldiers in command abroad to make a name for themselves before they attempt the same in the homeland, leading to them having been an usual sight on the battlefields during the fifty-year long war. Gorgalian heraldry is very advanced, oftenly rich in both color and detail.
There are of course other countries in the world, but I haven’t developed any ones beyond those that I’ve presented here. If you’ve got a cool idea of a country that you want your character to come from, feel free to write it down and share it with the rest of us.
As previously stated, you will play an individual on one of the two sides in the war. You may not play as one of the supreme commanders or otherwise most important people, but other than that you’re free to choose. You can be anything from the lowliest conscript of the Valorian militia to the most gifted diplomat of Skyland. Character Sheet below.
Name (character name)
Age (character age)
Personality (short description of behavior)
Appearance (picture and/or description)
Background (short character bio)
Pros (character strengths)
Cons (character weaknesses)
Misc (other useful information)
Should you have any, I would be happy to answer them for you!
Looking forward to playing with you!